Progressive Calendar 07.27.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2010 13:51:46 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   07.27.10

1. Afghanistan     7.27 5pm
2. Global warming  7.27 5pm
3. No DNC          7.27 6pm
4. Salon/book      7.27 6:30pm

5. Alliant vigil   7.28 7am
6. Jimmy Johns/StP 7.28 6:30pm
7. StPaul Greenway 7.28 7pm

8. Manual Garcia Jr - A checklist for political survival/ Dear Dems, 2012
9. Bill Quigley   - 14 examples/Rampant racism in criminal justice system
10. Gareth Porter - Fatal contradictions/ The Afghan war springs a leak
11. PC Roberts    - The year America d\issolved
12. Chris Floyd   - Poor must die/ Anglo-American political philosophy 101
13. Francis Shor  - Imperial overkill and the death of US empire

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From: "Erika Thorne, Interim Executive Director" <info [at]>
Subject: Afghanistan 7.27 5pm

a Conversation with Santwana Dasgupta
July 27th, 5-8pm at the FNVW office (1050 Selby Ave, St Paul).

Santwana Dasgupta, former Development Director for FNVW, and current
Director of the Partnership for the Education of Children in Afghanistan
(P.E.C.A), has been living in Kabul for the past two years. She is coming
to FNVW to share how an innovative and peaceful approach to development in
a troubled country can successfully deliver education for girls in an area
where other international aid organizations refuse to go.

Santwana will share stories of daily life, for herself and for Afghanis,
in the face of the U.S-initiated war. She will also address the political
and military strategy the U.S. is implementing: what she has observed
since last December's "troop surge," her assessment of U.S. policies, and
her sense of the perceptions on the Afghan street about these policies.

Please join us 5:00-8:00pm on Tuesday, July 27 for a
conversation with Santwana Dasgupta, at the FNVW offices, 1050 Selby Ave, St.
Paul  55104.

We'll provide light refreshment (not dinner.) Please feel free to bring
food (we have oven, stove, microwave, dishes, utensils.) ###

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From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Global warming 7.27 5pm

St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm,
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow!  Households
with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 7/27 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 7/28, 10am
"Global Warming"

Author/activist Peter Gelderloos speaks on world governmental reactions to
the reality of global warming, what scientists have been doing over the
last 20 years, and how it is necessary to have a holistic approach to the
real problems created by climate change.  Outlining some of the false
solutions pushed by more established environmental organizations,
Gelderloos suggests decentralized organizing as a more appropriate
strategy for dealing with the crisis. (filmed 4/10)

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From: luce <luce [at]>
Subject: No DNC 7.27 6pm

Wanna save the Twin Cities from another costly police riot? The City of
Minneapolis is one of four finalists bidding for the 2012 Democratic
National Convention. You're invited to a meeting to work on losing
Minneapolis the bid! Please join us, and please invite anyone you think
would be interested.

Meeting to lose Mpls the 2012 DNC bid
Tuesday, 7/27, 6:00pm
Powderhorn Park, at the benches north of the rec center, 15th ave s
and 35th st, Mpls

They say they're "Resourceful, Ready and Reliable," but we are too!

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From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Salon/book 7.27 6:30pm

Tuesday, July 27, will be The Little Book of the Odd Mouth Club time, and
the book (though it is not too little this time)  is the book about Paul
Farmer and Partners in Health called Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy
Kidder. Come even if you haven't read the book and hear about this amazing
and inspiring man.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

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From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
Subject: Alliant vigil 7.28 7am

Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am
Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday
morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems,
7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie.
We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies?
directions and lots of info:

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From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Jimmy Johns/StP 7.28 6:30pm

Arizona Boycott group turns its focus on St. Paul's Spin the Planet

Nick Espinosa wrote:

Contest Protest Jimmy Johns - Boycott Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Law
BAM! will sponsor a Jimmy John's trivia contest!  The lucky winner
gets a special sandwich!

Boycott Arizona---Minnesota! (BAM!)
Immigrants and allies
Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 6:30 p.m.- 7:15 p.m.
Jimmy John's  St. Paul
2446 University Avenue, St. Paul  ( University & 280)

Why:  Franchise owners won't sign statement condemning Jimmy John's
founder who funds the campaigns of anti-immigrant demagogues like Joe
Arpaio and John McCain who are outspoken supporters of SB1070

Media visuals:  Contest, street theater, protesters, signs, pickets

The story:
Jimmy John's founder funds the campaigns of anti-immigrant demagogues like
Joe Arpaio and John McCain who are outspoken supporters of SB1070. Founded
in 1983 by James "Jimmy John" Liautaud, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches
have expanded to over 1000 shops, including two franchise operations in
Minnesota, Miklin and Spin the Planet Enterprises. Each franchise pays the
parent corporation in Illinois about 10.5 percent in sales and branded

Unfortunately, some of that money has ended up assisting the campaigns of
racist demagogues like Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, infamous for
his anti-immigrant policies. Prior to the 2008 election, the Liautaud
Development Group LLC (also run by Jimmy John) funneled $10,000 to the
"Sheriff Command Association," which smeared Arpaio's opponent, Dan Saban.
Nationally, Liautaud has funded Senator John McCain in recent
transformation as an anti-comprehensive immigration reform candidate
($4.600 in 2008), as well as contributing $5,000 in 2009 to the "Free and
Strong America PAC, which contributes to anti-reform U.S. Representatives
and Senators.

For this reason we are giving Jimmy John's sandwiches the title
"Freaky Facist"

We continue to demand that the franchise holders publicly denounce
SB1070 in writing - or face the boycott!

Miklin Enterprises signed the following statement last week, and so
BAM! turns its attention east to Spin the Planet.

To Whom It May Concern:MikLin Enterprises, Inc. is a local family
owned Jimmy John's franchisee.  We employ nearly 200 people without
regard to race, gender, national origin or sexual preference.  We
reject Arizona's SB1070 and urge the federal government to repeal this
misguided law.  We support the passage of just and humane
comprehensive immigration reform./
Michael L. Mulligan
President, MikLin Enterprises, Inc/

When contacted about the action by BAM!, Spin the Planet Enterprise's
CEO Dan Vansteenberg  promised to contribute money to support SB1070
with each protect (*Contact : 651-288-1404 ex 102*)

More info on Jimmy John's:
Boycott Arizona -- Minnesota! (BAM!) Immigrants and Allies

An alliance of Minnesota immigrants and their allies have launched a
campaign to Repeal SB1070 by encouraging individuals, organizations, and
businesses to boycott Arizona, and to show right wing extremists that we
will not tolerate hateful Arizona style laws here in Minnesota.

Contact: Nick Espinosa, 612-432-8888, BAM! Campaign organizer

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From: Anne R. Carroll <carrfran [at]>
Subject: StPaul Greenway 7.28 7pm

Envisioning the St. Paul Greenway
Wed, July 28, 2010
7:00 pm -- 8:30 pm
Linwood Rec Center, 860 St. Clair Ave

Plans are underway for a bike/walk trail linking downtown St. Paul with
the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis and we need your help to make it
happen! Join St. Paul Smart Trips and the St. Paul Greenway Committee for
this community event to rally support for a comprehensive pedestrian and
bicycle greenway in St. Paul. The City of St. Paul has already begun
planning for a narrow path, but we want something better! Come learn about
the project, share your vision and voice your support for a world-class
green urban trail that accommodates all users safely and comfortably.

For more information contact Laura Baum (laura [at],
651-224-8555 x21) or visit

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"The Democratic Party captures the hopes of people who want to live like
Republicans, but want to think of themselves as nice." -from article

A Checklist for Political Survival
Dear Democrats, 2012
July 27, 2010

Logically, it is pointless to vote for you, as I explained in 2008. But,
public delusions and political pork barrel being perennially popular, you
will no doubt retain your hold on the hopes of tens of millions
nationally, which you will invariably continue to betray.

Clearly, it is your job to prod the reluctant rear of the herd into the
same stockyard that your Republican partners lead the eager, stampeding
front. It's easy to see the attraction of this drive from the cowboys'
perspective: anticipating the camaraderie of a hearty feed on prime rib
around the campfire, and pockets bulging with wages at the end of the
drive. However, when given any thought, one has to concede that the
attractions of the drive are lost to any members of the herd being driven.
Fortunately for you, few in the herd think beyond chewing into the
immediate satisfaction rubbing into their muzzles, so they usually serve
their function as prime rib.

Much of the public has the mistaken belief that the purpose of political
parties in the United States is to consolidate a set of broad consensus on
national issues, such as the economy, the mechanics and economics of food
production and distribution, the structure of national defense forces, and
the implementation of social services: education, health, retirement and
elder-care; so as to craft legislation that governs how these and other
matters are to be dealt with for the public good.

It is amazing that such a mistaken and inverted view of reality could ever
have become common. Of course, it is the parties that are supposed to be
the beneficiaries of government action, and the public whose purpose is to
ensure that beneficence by suppling the labor and capital needed to
implement government action (or inaction) mandated by the bipartisan
directorate. For example, it is the public's duty to:

-- provide a mass base of unthinking public approval for the status quo,
such as by voting for Democrats and Republicans only (and so helping
decide the biannual and quadrennial local and national contests selecting
which partner will be the respective pork barrel meister-in-chief for the
term), by manning party and race rallies (to maintain public social
disunity), and following directions en masse in the many sanctioned
corporate-financed political campaigns;

-- supply the living and future dead soldiers for the ongoing foreign

-- buy products and services as directed by the entertaining and
instructional advertisements in major media;

-- assume the tax burden necessary to underwrite the profitability of
otherwise failing corporations, which profitability the bipartisan
directorate deems to be a "national interest";

-- be an absorptive market for the waste production of national security
industries (e.g., assume liability for civilian nuclear power; sustain the
use of high-tech para-military cop equipment);

-- sustain the operation of a wealth-based adjudication-prison system, a
corporate-government partnership and punitive element of social control;

-- support by every thought, word and deed the primacy of national
security needs, as defined by the Pentagon and the bipartisan directorate,
to the access of national resources over any selfish humanitarian or
public social considerations (e.g., expending tax revenues - "emergency
war supplemental" - to continue funding the bombardments in Central Asia
and East Africa, instead of profitless subsidies for continuing
unemployment benefits or a variety of public social services);

-- remember that the nation is defined by its national security tasks
framing its corporate financial capital essence, NOT by the massed and, by
definition, petty concerns of its self-absorbed "rubber bumper"

At this time in U.S. history, the Republican Party commands the loyalties
of those motivated by simple white Judeo-Christian supremacy, finance
capital greed, and hegemonic US militarism. Humanitarian, cultural,
artistic and environmental considerations are absent, except when seen as
impediments. This is the mindset of social inertia supporting exploitation
full speed ahead. The Democratic Party captures the hopes of people who
want to live like Republicans, but want to think of themselves as nice. It
is easy to see how minimal intellect presents few problems in maintaining
a Republican mindset, yet how helpful intellectual agility can be for a
Democrat, whose self-image can require considerable mental gymnastics to
maintain. In both cases, the identification with a party is usually
reduced to a habit, because most people try to minimize their amount of
thinking (which is sad, because this popular lack of thought is a very
useful lever exploited by the manipulators of social control).

So, Democrats tend to "reach out" to leftist political outcasts, presumed
to be politically homeless without them (intentionally so, as the
Democrats work to suppress "third" parties), in an effort to produce
electoral majorities that will gain Democrats pork-barrel-dispensing
seniority when in government. Of course, the purpose of the voter is to
promote the interests of the party, and not vice versa; so after the
electoral victory the leftist issues and vote-seducing party rhetoric are
expeditiously excreted, to trim the party for its primary purpose of
implementing its previously agreed upon corporate agenda.

One can be forgiven for being "used" or "fooled" and "disappointed" by
such political exploitation once, but not multiply. If nothing else, then
just self-respect demands one decide on what one really wants to vote for,
and then stick to it. Vote for what you believe in. If a party does not
act as you believe it should, then don't vote for it. If you follow that
simple rule (just stated twice), then you will never be "used" or "fooled"
and "disappointed" by a political party or political campaign again.

People loyal to either the Republican or Democratic parties, and
completely satisfied with the conditions of the United States and the
world today, have a completely consistent position because they
unambiguously support the bipartisan consensus that produced those
conditions. If, like me, you do not like the current situation,
domestically and internationally, then you can make a list of your
priorities and use it to gauge the performance (NOT just rhetoric) of
candidates and parties you could vote for (and campaigns and public
interest groups you could join and work with). Let your allegiance follow
your values, and not be shackled by habit nor fear (nor pork barrel) to
any one political power club.

So, dear Democrats, in a public answer to your many mailed and e-mailed
appeals for my money - oh, and yes, my vote - here is my list of what I
am voting for, and which I will use to identify matching candidates: the
people whose past performance suggests they are most likely to implement
my political goals. You may quantify my loyalty to your party by its
degree of coherence to these goals.

Checklist for 2012 and Beyond:

1) Safeguard the U.S. Social Security Trust Fund and its traditional use:
no privatization of any kind, no diversion of funds ever.

2) End the Israel subsidies until Israel's complete withdrawal (of its
military and settlements) behind its 1967 borders with Gaza and the West
Bank. Since it would be impossible to ensure that foreign aid money given
to Israel for humanitarian purposes would not be surreptitiously diverted
to the Israeli military and the Israeli settlement activity (land theft in
Palestine), a complete ban on foreign aid would be necessary until
verifiable Israeli compliance with the world consensus on international
justice (codified in UN resolutions, its charter, conventions and reports)
is achieved.

3) Prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops from their invasions and occupations
in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop military incursions elsewhere, and begin the
process of substantially reducing the foreign deployment of U.S. troops on
foreign bases (e.g., the complete evacuation from Okinawa - Japanese

4) Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, and modernize it to deal with
the 21st century electronic technology of banking and finance (the
internet and computer networks). Bring back strict regulation of the
banking industry, and also nationalize the Federal Reserve because the
management of the nation's currency is too important to be left to
for-profit corporations.

5) Eliminate the Bush Tax cuts as only the first step to reintroducing
fairness into the U.S. tax code: a reduction in personal income tax rates
for incomes below $100,000/year, the taxing of capital gains like wage
income, the elimination of offshore "tax haven" loopholes and special
tax-exempting subsidies to businesses.

6) Repeal of the Patriot Act. Defending the nation should mean defending
the civil rights of its people, not making it easier for hidden and
unaccountable administrators to secretly select scapegoats and designate
enemies-of-the-state from the national citizenry and world public.

7) Establish a national health-care system, a public "single-payer"
all-living-souls-included system. If necessary, nationalize the entire
insurance industry to do so; the maintenance of each human life is too
important to be left to for-profit corporations. The savings to be gained
by the retrenchment of the military (items 2 and 3) will easily cover the
expense of managing a national health plan.

8) Repeal the "No Child Left Behind" abomination hypocritically pretending
to improve the nation's patchwork of primary public education systems.
Establish a national kindergarten-to-college all-living-souls-included
plan. Education is a right. The mental and character development of the
nation's children (that is to say, the children residing within the
national territory at any given time) is too important to be left to
for-profit corporations or local racist atavistic groups.

9) Remove patent protection from drugs and medical technology based on the
results of publicly funded research. If tax dollars paid for the work to
devise new types of medicines, or their enabling insights and mechanisms,
then the public has a right to the health benefits of these advances, over
any considerations of profits by private companies that seek to restrict
and control such use. A similar principle should apply to the
privatization of all publicly funded research, for example in physics,
aviation, electronics, and materials science.

10) Fund the development and deployment of solar and sustainable energy
sources and technologies; end fossil and fission fuel subsidies; develop
the range of occupations (jobs) that would design, build and sustain a
network of local and regional sub-networks of sustainable (solar, wind,
hydro, geo-thermal, tidal and ocean) energy generation and distribution
(of short-range and low-loss).

There are other issues I would like to see action on, but let's start with

[I think we can be sure that the Dems will support none of these - in
fact, will war against each of them with bitter rage and fearful
nastiness. Yet, many are going to vote for them anyway, showing a terminal
lack of intelliegence, prudence, common sense, and concern for the future.
This is THE problem of change in America - all the dead-heads and faint of
heart and imagination dully doing what they have done every election since
they started voting, with no visible success. If an animal did that, we'd
say it was stupid, and unworthy of passing on its genes. Since it's us, we
make unending excuses - and do it again and again. -ed].

Manuel Garcia, Jr. is a retired nuclear bomb testing physicist; his e-mail
is mango [at]

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14 Examples
Rampant Racism in the Criminal Justice System
July 26, 2010

The biggest crime in the U.S. criminal justice system is that it is a
race-based  institution where African-Americans are directly targeted and
punished in a much  more aggressive way than white people.

Saying the US criminal system is racist may be politically controversial
in some  circles.  But the facts are overwhelming.  No real debate about
that.  Below I  set out numerous examples of these facts.

The question is . are these facts the mistakes of an otherwise good
system, or  are they evidence that the racist criminal justice system is
working exactly as  intended?  Is the US criminal justice system operated
to marginalize and control  millions of African Americans?

Information on race is available for each step of the criminal justice
system .  from the use of drugs, police stops, arrests, getting out on
bail, legal  representation, jury selection, trial, sentencing, prison,
parole and freedom.   Look what these facts show.

One.   The US has seen a surge in arrests and putting people in jail over
the  last four decades.  Most of the reason is the war on drugs.  Yet
whites and  blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales, at
roughly comparable  rates . according to a report on race and drug
enforcement published by Human  Rights Watch in May 2008.  While African
Americans comprise 13% of the US  population and 14% of monthly drug users
they are 37% of the people arrested for  drug offenses . according to 2009
Congressional testimony by Marc Mauer of The  Sentencing Project.

Two.  The police stop blacks and Latinos at rates that are much higher
than  whites.  In New York City, where people of color make up about half
of the  population, 80% of the NYPD stops were of blacks and Latinos.
When whites were  stopped, only 8% were frisked.  When blacks and Latinos
are stopped 85% were  frisked according to information provided by the
NYPD.  The same is true most  other places as well.  In a California
study, the ACLU found blacks are three  times more likely to be stopped
than whites.

Three.  Since 1970, drug arrests have skyrocketed rising from 320,000 to
close  to 1.6 million according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the
U.S.  Department of Justice.

African Americans are arrested for drug offenses at rates 2 to 11 times
higher  than the rate for whites . according to a May 2009 report on
disparity in drug  arrests by Human Rights Watch.

Four.  Once arrested, blacks are more likely to remain in prison awaiting
trial  than whites.  For example, the New York state division of criminal
justice did a  1995 review of disparities in processing felony arrests and
found that in some  parts of New York blacks are 33% more likely to be
detained awaiting felony  trials than whites facing felony trials.

Five.  Once arrested, 80% of the people in the criminal justice system get
a  public defender for their lawyer.  Race plays a big role here as well.
Stop in  any urban courtroom and look a the color of the people who are
waiting for  public defenders.  Despite often heroic efforts by public
defenders the system  gives them much more work and much less money than
the prosecution.  The  American Bar Association, not a radical bunch,
reviewed the US public defender  system in 2004 and concluded .All too
often, defendants plead guilty, even if  they are innocent, without really
understanding their legal rights or what is  occurring.The fundamental
right to a lawyer that America assumes applies to  everyone accused of
criminal conduct effectively does not exist in practice for  countless
people across the US..

Six.  African Americans are frequently illegally excluded from criminal
jury  service according to a June 2010 study released by the Equal Justice
Initiative.  For example in Houston County, Alabama, 8 out of 10 African
Americans qualified for jury service have been struck by prosecutors from
serving on death penalty cases.

Seven.  Trials are rare.  Only 3 to 5 percent of criminal cases go to
trial .  the rest are plea bargained.  Most African Americans defendants
never get a  trial.  Most plea bargains consist of promise of a longer
sentence if a person  exercises their constitutional right to trial.  As a
result, people caught up in  the system, as the American Bar Association
points out, plead guilty even when  innocent.  Why?  As one young man told
me recently, .Who wouldn.t rather do  three years for a crime they didn.t
commit than risk twenty-five years for a  crime they didn.t do?.

Eight.  The U.S. Sentencing Commission reported in March 2010 that in the
federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than
white  offenders for the same crimes.  Marc Mauer of the Sentencing
Project reports  African Americans are 21% more likely to receive
mandatory minimum sentences  than white defendants and 20% more like to be
sentenced to prison than white  drug defendants.

Nine.  The longer the sentence, the more likely it is that non-white
people will  be the ones getting it.  A July 2009 report by the Sentencing
Project found that  two-thirds of the people in the US with life sentences
are non-white.  In New  York, it is 83%.

Ten.  As a result, African Americans, who are 13% of the population and
14% of  drug users, are not only 37% of the people arrested for drugs but
56% of the  people in state prisons for drug offenses.  Marc Mauer May
2009 Congressional  Testimony for The Sentencing Project.

Eleven.  The US Bureau of Justice Statistics concludes that the chance of
a  black male born in 2001 of going to jail is 32% or 1 in three.  Latino
males  have a 17% chance and white males have a 6% chance.  Thus black
boys are five  times and Latino boys nearly three times as likely as white
boys to go to jail.

Twelve.  So, while African American juvenile youth is but 16% of the
population,  they are 28% of juvenile arrests, 37% of the youth in
juvenile jails and 58% of  the youth sent to adult prisons.  2009 Criminal
Justice Primer, The Sentencing  Project.

Thirteen.  Remember that the US leads the world in putting our own people
into  jail and prison.  The New York Times reported in 2008 that the US
has five  percent of the world.s population but a quarter of the world.s
prisoners, over  2.3 million people behind bars, dwarfing other nations.
The US rate of  incarceration is five to eight times higher than other
highly developed  countries and black males are the largest percentage of
inmates according to ABC  News.

Fourteen.  Even when released from prison, race continues to dominate.  A
study  by Professor Devah Pager of the University of Wisconsin found that
17% of white  job applicants with criminal records received call backs
from employers while  only 5% of black job applicants with criminal
records received call backs.  Race  is so prominent in that study that
whites with criminal records actually  received better treatment than
blacks without criminal records!

So, what conclusions do these facts lead to?  The criminal justice system,
from  start to finish, is seriously racist.

Professor Michelle Alexander concludes that it is no coincidence that the
criminal justice system ramped up its processing of African Americans just
as  the Jim Crow laws enforced since the age of slavery ended.  Her book,
The New  Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness sees
these facts as  evidence of the new way the US has decided to control
African Americans . a  racialized system of social control.   The stigma
of criminality functions in  much the same way as Jim Crow . creating
legal boundaries between them and us,  allowing legal discrimination
against them, removing the right to vote from  millions, and essentially
warehousing a disposable population of unwanted  people.  She calls it a
new caste system.

Poor whites and people of other ethnicity are also subjected to this
system of  social control.  Because if poor whites or others get out of
line, they will be  given the worst possible treatment, they will be
treated just like poor blacks.

Other critics like Professor Dylan Rodriguez see the criminal justice
system as  a key part of what he calls the domestic war on the
marginalized.  Because of  globalization, he argues in his book Forced
Passages, there is an excess of  people in the US and elsewhere.  .These
people., whether they are in Guantanamo  or Abu Ghraib or US jails and
prisons, are not productive, are not needed, are  not wanted and are not
really entitled to the same human rights as the  productive ones.  They
must be controlled and dominated for the safety of the  productive.  They
must be intimidated into accepting their inferiority or they  must be
removed from the society of the productive.

This domestic war relies on the same technology that the US uses
internationally.   More and more we see the militarization of this
country.s  police.  Likewise, the goals of the US justice system are the
same as the US war  on terror - domination and control by capture,
immobilization, punishment and  liquidation.

What to do?

Martin Luther King Jr., said we as a nation must undergo a radical
revolution of  values. A radical approach to the US criminal justice
system means we must go to the  root of the problem.  Not reform.  Not
better beds in better prisons.  We are  not called to only trim the leaves
or prune the branches, but rip up this unjust  system by its roots.

We are all entitled to safety.  That is a human right everyone has a right
to  expect.  But do we really think that continuing with a deeply racist
system  leading the world in incarcerating our children is making us

 It is time for every person interested in justice and safety to join in
and  dismantle this racist system.  Should the US decriminalize drugs like
marijuana?  Should prisons be abolished?  Should we expand the use of
restorative justice?  Can we create fair educational, medical and
employment  systems? All these questions and many more have to be
seriously explored.  Join  a group like INCITE, Critical Resistance, the
Center for Community Alternatives,  Thousand Kites, or the California
Prison Moratorium and work on it.  As  Professor Alexander says .Nothing
short of a major social movement can dismantle  this new caste system..

Bill Quigley is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights
and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be reached at
quigley77 [at]

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Fatal Contradictions
The Afghan War Springs a Leak
July 27, 2010

The 92,000 reports on the war in Afghanistan made public by the
whistleblower organisation WikiLeaks, and reported Monday by the Guardian,
The New York Times and Der Spiegel, offer no major revelations that are
entirely new, as did the Pentagon Papers to which they are inevitably
being compared.

But they increase the political pressure on a war policy that has already
suffered a precipitous loss of credibility this year by highlighting
contradictions between the official assumptions of the strategy and the
realities shown in the documents - especially in regard to Pakistan's role
in the war.

Unlike the Pentagon Papers, which chronicle the policymaking process
leading up to and during the Vietnam War, the WikiLeaks documents
chronicle thousands of local incidents and situations encountered by U.S.
and other NATO troops that illustrate chronic problems for the U.S.-NATO

Among the themes that are documented, sometimes dramatically but often
through bland military reports, are the seemingly casual killing of
civilians away from combat situations, night raids by special forces that
are often based on bad intelligence, the absence of legal constraints on
the abuses of Afghan police, and the deeply rooted character of corruption
among Afghan officials.

The most politically salient issue highlighted by the new documents,
however, is Pakistan's political and material support for the Taliban
insurgency, despite its ostensible support for U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

The documents include many intelligence reports about Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul,
the director of the ISI, Pakistan's military intelligence agency, in the
late 1980s, continuing to work with the Taliban commanders loyal to Mullah
Omar as well as the Jalaluddin Haaqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar insurgent

Some of the reports obviously reflect the anti-Pakistan bias of the Afghan
intelligence service when it was under former Northern Alliance
intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh. Nevertheless, the overall impression
they convey of Pakistani support for the Taliban is credible to the news
media, because they confirm numerous press reports over the past few

The New York Times led its coverage of the documents with its report on
the Pakistani-Taliban issue. The story said the documents reflect "deep
suspicions among American officials that Pakistan's military spy service
has for years guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as
Pakistan receives more than 1 billion dollars a year from Washington for
its help combating the militants."

The issue of Pakistani "double-dealing" on Afghanistan is one of the
Barack Obama administration's greatest political vulnerabilities, because
it bears on a point of particular political sensitivity among the
political and national security elite who are worried about whether there
is any hope for success for the war strategy, even with Gen. David
Petraeus in command.

One Democratic opponent of the war policy was quick to take advantage of
the leaked documents' focus on Pakistan's support for the Taliban. In a
statement issued Monday, Sen. Russ Feingold, Democratic member of the
Foreign Relations Committee, said the documents "highlight a fundamental
strategic problem, which is that elements of the Pakistani security
services have been complicit in the insurgency".

In combination with "competing agendas within the Afghan security forces",
Feingold argued, that problem precludes any "military solution in

Afghan President Hamid Karzai took advantage of the new story generated by
the documents to release a statement pointing to Pakistani sanctuaries
across the border as the primary problem faced by his government. "Our
efforts against terrorism will have no effect as long as these sanctuaries
and sources remain intact," said Karzai.

Last February, then Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said
what administration officials had privately conceded. Disrupting the "safe
havens" enjoyed by the Taliban on the Pakistani side of the border, he
said, "won't be sufficient by itself to defeat the insurgency in
Afghanistan", but it is a "necessary condition" for making "progress" in

Implicitly admitting its political vulnerability on the issue, on Sunday,
the White House issued a compilation of statements by senior
administration officials over the last 18 months aimed at showing that
they have been tough with Pakistan on Afghanistan.

But none of the statements quoted in the compilation admitted the reality
that Pakistan's policy of supporting the Taliban insurgency has long been
firmly fixed and is not going to change.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed in April
2009 that "elements" of the ISI were "connected to those militant
organisations". But he suggested that Pakistani chief of staff Gen. Ashfaq
Kayani, with whom Mullen had developed a close personal relationship, was
in the process of changing the intelligence agency.

Mullen essentially pleaded for time, saying that change "isn't going to
happen overnight" and that "it takes a fairly significant time to change
an organisation."

Admitting that Pakistan's fundamental interests in Afghanistan conflict
with U.S. war strategy would be a serious - and possibly, fatal - blow to
the credibility of the Obama administration's strategy of using force to
"reverse the momentum" of the Taliban.

To the extent that this contradiction and others are highlighted in the
coming weeks as the news media comb through the mountains of new
documents, it could accelerate the process by which political support for
the Afghanistan War among the foreign policy and political elite continues
to diminish.

The loss of political support for the war among the political and national
security elite has accelerated in recent months and is already far
advanced. More prominent figures in the national security elite, both
Republican and Democratic, have signaled a developing consensus in those
circles that the war strategy cannot succeed, paralleling the process that
occurred in Washington in 2006 in regard to the Iraq War.

Just this past week, Robert Blackwill, former deputy national security
adviser for George W. Bush, and Richard Haass, former Bill Clinton
administration official and president of the Council on Foreign Relations,
joined the chorus of doubters and called for ceding southern Afghanistan
to the Taliban and withdrawing to the north.

Haas penned an article in Newsweek under the title, "We're Not Winning.
It's Not Worth It."

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist with
Inter-Press Service specialising in U.S. national security policy. The
paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of
Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.

--------11 of 13--------

When Globalism Runs Its Course ...
The Year America Dissolved
July 26, 2010

It was 2017.  Clans were governing America.

The first clans organized around local police forces. The conservatives'
war on crime during the late 20th century and the Bush/Obama war on terror
during the first decade of the 21st century had resulted in the police
becoming militarized and unaccountable.

As society broke down, the police became warlords. The state police broke
apart, and the officers were subsumed into the local forces of their
communities. The newly formed tribes expanded to encompass the relatives
and friends of the police.

The dollar had collapsed as world reserve currency in 2012 when the
worsening economic depression made it clear to Washington's creditors that
the federal budget deficit was too large to be financed except by the
printing of money.

With the dollar's demise, import prices skyrocketed. As Americans were
unable to afford foreign-made goods, the transnational corporations that
were producing offshore for US markets were bankrupted, further eroding
the government's revenue base.

The government was forced to print money in order to pay its bills,
causing domestic prices to rise rapidly. Faced with hyperinflation,
Washington took recourse in terminating Social Security and Medicare and
followed up by confiscating the remnants of private pensions. This
provided a one-year respite, but with no more resources to confiscate,
money creation and hyperinflation resumed.

Organized food deliveries broke down when the government fought
hyperinflation with fixed prices and the mandate that all purchases and
sales had to be in US paper currency. Unwilling to trade appreciating
goods for depreciating paper, goods disappeared from stores.

Washington responded as Lenin had done during the "war communism" period
of Soviet history. The government sent troops to confiscate goods for
distribution in kind to the population. This was a temporary stop-gap
until existing stocks were depleted, as future production was discouraged.
Much of the confiscated stocks became the property of the troops who
seized the goods.

Goods reappeared in markets under the protection of local warlords.
Transactions were conducted in barter and in gold, silver, and copper

Other clans organized around families and individuals who possessed stocks
of food, bullion, guns and ammunition. Uneasy alliances formed to balance
differences in clan strengths. Betrayals quickly made loyalty a necessary
trait for survival.

Large scale food and other production broke down as local militias taxed
distribution as goods moved across local territories.  Washington seized
domestic oil production and refineries, but much of the government's
gasoline was paid for safe passage across clan territories.

Most of the troops in Washington's overseas bases were abandoned. As their
resource stocks were drawn down, the abandoned soldiers were forced into
alliances with those with whom they had been fighting.

Washington found it increasingly difficult to maintain itself. As it lost
control over the country, Washington was less able to secure supplies from
abroad as tribute from those Washington threatened with nuclear attack.
Gradually other nuclear powers realized that the only target in America
was Washington.  The more astute saw the writing on the wall and slipped
away from the former capital city.

When Rome began her empire, Rome's currency consisted of gold and silver
coinage. Rome was well organized with efficient institutions and the
ability to supply troops in the field so that campaigns could continue
indefinitely, a monopoly in the world of Rome's time.

When hubris sent America in pursuit of overseas empire, the venture
coincided with the offshoring of American manufacturing, industrial, and
professional service jobs and the corresponding erosion of the
government's tax base, with the advent of massive budget and trade
deficits, with the erosion of the fiat paper currency's value, and with
America's dependence on foreign creditors and puppet rulers.

The Roman Empire lasted for centuries. The American one collapsed

Rome's corruption became the strength of her enemies, and the Western
Empire was overrun.

America's collapse occurred when government ceased to represent the people
and became the instrument of a private oligarchy. Decisions were made in
behalf of short-term profits for the few at the expense of unmanageable
liabilities for the many. Overwhelmed by liabilities, the government

Globalism had run its course. Life reformed on a local basis.

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an
Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE
ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can
be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at]

--------12 of 13--------

Anglo-American Political Philosophy 101
The Poor Must Die
July 27, 2010

News from Blighty: the disparity in death rates between the well-off and
the poor in the UK  is now greater than at any time since 1921. The London
Review of Books points to a new study by the British Medical Journal that
shows that by 2007, "for every 100 people under the age of 65 dying in the
best-off areas, 199 were dying in the poorest tenth of areas."

The Journal study said that the data suggest "it was only prolonged and
enthusiastic state intervention" that kept the disparity from being
greater. On the other hand, the elite-coddling market jihadism of the
Clintonian-Obamaish "New Labour" government (or as the BMJ more politely
puts it, "the prolonged state disengagement in promoting equality in
outcome") helped stretch the yawning gap even further.

In other words, the few spare pence that the war criminals of the Labour
government threw at the poor kept them from dying quite as fast as they
would have done otherwise under the system of voracious corporate rapine
that Labour entrenched and expanded after inheriting it from the
Thatcherite Tories in 1997.

Now, even those few pence are being stripped away - gleefully w- by what
many say is the most extremist government Britain has ever seen,
outstripping even Margaret Thatcher in the scope of its draconian cuts and
the fervor of its market fundamentalism. The savage cutbacks and vast,
churning upheavals being pushed through, at breakneck speed, by the new
Conservative government (and its truly pathetic coalition "partner," the
lapdog Lib Dems) will sends millions of people tumbling down into a
permanent underclass - and finally, after 60 years of trying, gut the
national health service with a stealth "Americanization" that will turn
the operation of local doctors' offices over to private firms (many of
them from the US) and privatize public hospitals, allowing them to "fail"
- and close - if they don't produce enough cash for their elite
shareholders. Meanwhile, the schools are now in the hands of the
arch-neocon Michael Gove, who is plotting with revisionist historian Niall
Ferguson to impose a pro-Empire, pro-elite "national greatness" ideology
on the young. Gove is also using "emergency" legislative procedures to
strip public schools away from the oversight of democratically elected
local government and put them into the hands of unaccountable
corporations, religious groups and wealthy elites.

This Revolution of the Rich is being justified by a carefully crafted,
constantly stoked panic about budget deficits, pointing to the example of
the perpetually weak government and economy of Greece as a horror story to
be avoided at all costs. Yet even if the Greek situation was as dire as
the fearmongers make out, the fact remains that the cuts which the
Tory-LapDog coalition is making in the much stronger, much more stable UK
are actually far in excess than those being imposed upon Greece. As with
the fearmongering about "Iraqi WMDs," the "dangers of the deficit" are
being exaggerated - and manufactured - in order to put into place a
pre-existing (and transatlantic) ideological agenda:  neo-feudal

But in almost all of these measures, the Tory-LapDog government is only
entrenching and expanding the "market-led reforms" imposed by New Labour.
And "New Labour" was of course a close copy of the "New Democrats" of Bill
Clinton and his clique of "triangulating" bagmen for Big Money - scarcely
distinguishable from the Reagan-Bush faction that preceded them, and then
succeeded them in the Bush dynasty's second turn in the White House. And
we all know that "continuity" is the byword of the Obama administration,
which is chock-a-block with holdovers not only from strangulating
triangulators of the Clinton era but also the imperial militarists from
the two Bush reigns.

Thus for more than 30 years, the world-dominating Anglo-American alliance
has been under the sway of factions which, for all their internal
squabbling and hair-splitting, are strongly united in their steadfast,
unshakeable adherence to the perpetuation - and expansion - of elite
power and privilege. They have shown themselves willing - eager - to
degrade their own societies (and destroy many others) in the service of
this brutal, barbaric, inhuman faith. The poor have no place in this
system, which is a retrograde, hi-tech, rhetorically sugarcoated revival
of the laissez-faire fantasies of the past, as Jeremy Seabrook notes:

"'Pauperism' long ago took on the colour of culpability. The distinction
between the idle and improvident poor and the "deserving" goes back at
least to the Elizabethan poor law. It took on a new force in the early
industrial era, which saw an unprecedented growth in pauperism. The
enthusiasts of laissez-faire concluded that the evil was compounded by
efforts to relieve it, and helping the poor only increased their number.
Everything indicated that "natural" processes should be allowed to take
their course. .... In this version of the world, the market mechanism is
as flawless a creation as the earth, and should remain untouched by the
hand of meddlers, whose only effect is to upset its power to enrich us
all. It is remarkable that the establishment of laissez-faire itself in
the early 19th century required an enormous amount of government
intervention and regulation ..."

And so it is today. The "regulation" of the health care industry
introduced by the Obama Administration is actually a gargantuan transfer
of wealth, by force, from working people and the poor to a few huge
corporations. The financial "regulation" signed into law is yet another
sham that will leave the rapacious fools and fraudsters who brought down
the global economy - and triggered the convenient "deficit crisis" by
demanding massive bailouts of public money for their private businesses -
at large and in charge of the world's finances. Meanwhile, more and more
government regulations restrict the right of ordinary citizens to
challenge the rich and powerful in court, or to register a public protest
(herding them instead into the truly hideous "free speech zones") - even
as the state grants corporations extraordinary privileges to interfere
with the political process with their vast resources and protects their
leaders from personal accountability for the ravages they commit. The
government "intervention and regulation" on behalf of the industries and
elites who service the endlessly expanding symbiosis of corporate,
military and 'security' power - stretching even to the countenancing and
cover-up of torture and murder - is one of the defining elements of our

And as Glenn Ford notes, Obama is preparing to "regulate" the last
tattered fragments of the social welfare system - already decimated by
the progressive's favorite good old boy, Bill Cinton - right out of

"In April of this year, Obama once again reminded everyone that everything
is and has always been "on the table," as far as he's concerned, including
Social Security. His so-called "deficit commission" is stacked with rich
sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom
Social Security. It is a battle that safety net defenders thought they had
won against George Bush. Barack Obama has picked up Bush's marbles and put
them back into play. He is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one
before which liberal Democrats throw up their hands in surrender without
the dignity of a fight. Obama, working in plain sight over the past 18
months, has constructed and rigged a deficit commission to render a kind
of death sentence to the foundational program of Roosevelt's New Deal."

This is the system - the creed, the extremist faith - that all "serious"
players in all the "major" power faction on both sides of the Atlantic
adhere to. Their god of greed demands human sacrifices: and so the poor
must die. And to keep the system going, more and more people must be made
poor: first those in the "outer darkness" of faraway lands, then finally
those in the sacred "Homelands" themselves. We have been watching the
latter process play out slowly in the past few decades - but it is
accelerating now at dizzying speed.

As I once noted here awhile back of some our representative elites:

"Perhaps if they could obtain these same privileges as easily by other,
less horrific means, they would. As it is, they take the world as they
find it, and go about their business without fretting over the
consequences - the dead, the ruined, the spreading hate, the poisoned
planet. Why should they care? As the maggot cannot see beyond the meat, so
too these [people] of greed-stunted understanding can see nothing of worth
outside their own bottomless appetites."

Chris Floyd is a frequent contributor to CounterPunch. His blog, Empire
Burlesque, can be found at

[When will we revolt? -ed]

--------13 of 13--------

Imperial Overkill and the Death of US Empire
by Francis Shor
Foreign Policy in Focus
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Common Dreams

The oft-cited reference to Afghanistan as the "graveyard of empires"
haunts the increasingly desperate military measures of the United States
in that beleaguered country. However, beyond Afghanistan and the
hydrocarbon-rich Caspian basin region, the imperial projects of the United
States are, more and more, a commitment to Pentagon aggression and
profligacy. Imperial overstretch has transmogrified into imperial

While all empires have had to contend with imperial overstretch, the
particular historical situation confronting the United States after the
fall of the Soviet Union led to an asymmetrical hyper-power, reliant
especially on the reach of the Pentagon. The compulsion to rely even more
heavily on the military to compensate for a waning hegemony in other
domains - and to contend with shrinking resources (especially
hydrocarbons), rising adversaries (especially China) and growing
resistance (especially non-state Islamic militants and Latin American
national-popular governments) - led to a record number of direct U. S.
interventions. In turn, two of the most massive interventions, those in
Iraq and Afghanistan, underscored the inability of Washington to realize
all of its imperial goals.

In effect, out of frustration with unfulfilled geostrategic results, the
United States has turned to expanded and deadly military imperial

The McChrystal Debacle

Consider first the recent flap around the replacement of General Stanley
McChrystal as the commander of U. S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Instead of reassessing the military surge that has led to 140,000 U. S.
troops in Afghanistan at a cost of $17 billion a month, President Obama
and the Senate obsessed over "winning" the war, even if this meant more
lethal rules of engagement.  After replacing McChrystal with General David
Patraeus, his Iraq ethnic-cleansing and bribe-dispensing buddy, Obama gave
the job vacated by Petraeus, head of U. S. Central Command, to General
James N. Mattis. From overseeing the notorious assault on Fallujah to
informing his troops to "be polite, be professional, but have a plan to
kill everybody you meet," Mattis perfectly symbolizes both military
madness and imperial overkill.

Beyond the public theatricality of rearranging the military commanders'
deck chairs on the Pentagon's Titanic operations in Central Asia, there is
an even more insidious escalation of imperial overkill behind the scenes.
The Obama administration has expanded the role of Special Operations
forces from 60 to 75 countries, and given these forces the go-ahead to
"get more aggressive much more quickly." In the process, the Obama
administration has ramped up the extrajudicial assassinations first
approved by the previous administration and added on a nearly 6 percent
increase in the Special Operations budget.

Defense Secretary Gates is also ordering the Pentagon to identify spending
cuts from waste and redundancy in order to "guarantee 3 percent real
growth each year beyond inflation in the accounts that pay for combat
operations." In other words, with special operations planting the seeds
for eventually larger military engagements, the Pentagon has to plan for
permanent war. This doctrine of "Long War" has bipartisan support in
Washington, and is key to the forms of disaster capitalism that enrich the
military-industrial complex and private contractors like Halliburton,
Blackwater, and DynCorp, among many others. The objective of the "Long
War" doctrine, according to former military officer and now critic Andrew
Bacevich, is "to extend the American imperium (centered on dreams of a
world re-made in America's image)."

Garrisoning the Globe

In the face of enormous budget constraints, the Pentagon still manages to
receive the equivalent of what all of the other nations around the globe
spend on their militaries. While the United States remains the
overwhelming leader in military exports to the tune of 70 percent of the
weapons market, it also continues to flout international treaties, such as
those on cluster bombs. By ignoring these accords, the United States
thereby erodes international legal standards. To project its
forward-basing power, the Pentagon garrisons the globe with what Chalmers
Johnson calls an "empire of bases." This land presence - massive permanent
bases like those in Germany and Okinawa, smaller "lily-pads" that now dot
Central Asia, seven new bases in Colombia - is complimented by naval
flotillas, particularly evident in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

This imperium is under attack not only by adversaries, but also by those
who no longer accept U. S. economic and ideological models, especially in
the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007.  Continuing resistance in
Okinawa has roiled Japanese politics. In Latin America, leftist leaders
from Rafael Correa in Ecuador to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela have challenged
the United States. In the aftermath of his election in 2006, Correa
declared his intention not to renew the U. S. lease on the Eloy Alfaro Air
Base near the Pacific seaport of Manta when it expired in 2009, unless
Washington offered Quito the right to establish its own military base in
Miami. Correa's decision was made even more urgent as a consequence of the
Columbian military's March 2008 attack on Colombian insurgents in Ecuador,
probably assisted by the Eloy Alfaro Air Base.

Other so-called provocative moves have been undertaken by Chavez. Beyond
terminating all Venezuelan military connections with the United States,
including further training at the notorious former School of the Americas,
Chavez has replaced U.S. military contracts with those of Russian and
Chinese companies, and created a new military alliance with Russia that
brought Russian naval vessels to Venezuela. In turn, the United States has
very recently expanded its military operations in Curaao, under the cover
of so-called drug interdiction. With its eventual support of the Honduran
coup against President Zelaya and military exercises in Costa Rica and
other Latin American sites, the United States [under that bastard Obama
-ed] is reverting to a big-stick policy. Yet it no longer can bully its
way in Latin America.

The End of Indispensability

The United States appears to be nothing more than a pitiless and punitive
giant, to paraphrase and revise Richard Nixon's famous reference. Foreign
critics of the declining U. S. global hegemony, such as Emmanuel Todd,
decry the "theatrical micromilitarism" that "is pretending to remain the
world's indispensable superpower by attacking insignificant adversaries."
Todd claims that "this America - a militaristic, agitated, uncertain,
anxious country projecting its own disorder around the globe - is hardly
the indispensable nation it claims to be and is certainly not what the
rest of the world really needs now."

Even as Todd's perspectives on decline are repeated in the 2008 National
Intelligence Council's report on "Global Trends 2025," other U. S.
intelligence officials darkly hint at a U. S. foreign policy that "will
excite hatreds without precedent (and) a fair amount of killing." In
turn, U. S. critics of that policy, such as Carl Boggs in his Imperial
Delusions, denounce the "deadly cycle of militarism and terrorism,
involving perpetual war waged from the White House and Pentagon." Such
perpetual war is no longer about achieving victory, whatever that means,
but perpetrating military imperialism. Although that imperialism is
anchored in protecting economic prerogatives, it's also an obsession with
a matrix of control and destruction, resulting in imperial overkill.

That matrix of control and destruction is bound to what
psychologist-historian Robert Jay Lifton calls a "superpower syndrome." In
the case of the United States, the insistence of its "ownership of
history" projects a fantasy of "infinite power and control...that is as
self-destructive as it is dazzling." Contending that the "American
superpower is an artificial construct, widely perceived as illegitimate,"
Lifton also asserts that its "reign is...inherently unstable...and its
reach for full-scale domination marks the beginning of its decline."
Hence, whether represented by the Bush Doctrine of "full-spectrum
dominance" or the "smart power" of counterinsurgency by the Obama
administration, the United States is a dying empire in denial of its
perilous condition.

Addicted to War

As resources are stretched to the limit and permanent war becomes the
defining feature of the empire, the selection for imperial overkill gains
prominence as the modus operandi for U. S. foreign policy. Among the
stretched resources are the $1 trillion in expenditures for the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Using a multiplier effect, the economist Joseph
Stiglitz has estimated the long-term expenses for those wars to be in
excess of three times the expended amount. This is all part of a growing
debt of $13 trillion dollars. Moreover, with U. S. casualties rising in
Afghanistan and with a record number of closed head injuries among
American soldiers, the costs in human terms are enormous. And still, the
Pentagon is seeding future wars by the extensive operations of Special

Given this seeming addiction to war, perhaps the reference to imperial
overstretch is not elastic enough to contain the contradictions and
absurdities in these war-making policies. Among the most absurd,
reminiscent of the antics of the fictional operator Milo Minderbinder from
Joseph Heller's satirical antiwar novel Catch 22, is the $2.2 billion Host
Nation Trucking contract underwritten by the Pentagon for security
companies in Afghanistan. These same companies, in turn, contribute money
to Taliban warlords in order to guarantee safe delivery of U. S. supplies
over Afghan routes. These payoffs also allow an unending cycle of violence
that stokes the military machine and its imperial enablers.

It's hard to imagine the persistence of a U. S. empire that relies on
imperial overkill.  In fact, much evidence of a dying empire can be found
on the blood-soaked landscapes invaded by the U. S. military and the mad
mindscapes of imperial policymakers. From the "shock and awe" bombing
campaigns unleashed on Iraq by former Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld, to the death squads fostered by the Bush and Obama
administrations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the drone attacks in Pakistan,
the U. S. political elite seems committed to what C. Wright Mills called
"crackpot realism." Such policies can only lead to increased resistance to
U. S. hegemony.

Perhaps if the terminal crisis of U. S. empire isn't evident to the
political elite, the absurdity of its operation and trajectory is all too
apparent to those with any historical sensibility. The Afghanistan
invasion clearly put the finishing touches to the overextended and
military-heavy Soviet empire, even with the last-ditch efforts of
Gorbachev to withdraw and reorganize the Soviet system. Many voices on the
left and the right are calling for Washington to admit it cannot "win" in
Afghanistan. However, like other empires of the past, those in power
remain convinced that they have a global mission to perform, even if it
leads to self-destructive imperial overkill.

 2010 Foreign Policy in Focus
Francis Shor teaches history at Wayne State University. A contributor to
Foreign Policy In Focus, he is the author of Dying Empire: U. S.
Imperialism and Global Resistance.


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